Glass Blowing Makes A Home In Central Illinois

Todd Manicki's passion for glass blowing is evident as he guides one of his students through the early process of making a paperweight one recent afternoon.

"Glass blowing is just great. You're taking sand and then turning it into all of this stuff," said Manicki, gesturing toward the shelves around his studio lined with vases, bowls and lampshades. "Glass blowing takes all the benefits of all other art materials and combines it into one."

His student for the day was Bob Pasquesi, a former horseshoe maker from Elkhart. Pasquesi drives 45 minutes to Manicki's studio twice a week to get help honing his glass-blowing skills.

Pasquesi said meeting Manicki, 29, was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

"He introduced me to the furnace," Pasquesi said. "And I'm not patronizing him (when I say) he's the best teacher I've ever had."

Sandy Manuel, a retired carpenter living in Mansfield, started taking classes with Manicki about four years ago. She also believes Manicki has a gift for teaching.

"What I like is that if something goes wrong he says, 'Here's what we can get out of it,'" said Manuel. "I learn more from that (style of teaching)."

Manicki began teaching workshops shortly after he opened his shop, Farmer City Art Glass, in November 2003. Currently, he meets with five students each week. The cost is $100 for three hours.

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